It’s been a tradition among Macquarie Street staffers for longer than we can remember.
Each week some lucky functionaries are given up to 20 free tickets by the SCG Trust to fixtures at its hallowed grounds — from NRL to cricket — to be distributed by the responsible minister.
Parliamentary advisers past and present remember with some fondness being the recipient of a quiet heads up, or simply idling up to the minister’s office for their free passes.
Under Stuart Ayres, recently moved from sports minister to the jobs and investment portfolio, the Friday line-up was legendary.
But no more. Ayres’s replacement, John Sidoti, has derailed the gravy train. We’re told the new direction is: thanks but no thanks. The SCG Trust will be keeping its tickets.
The no free ticket policy does not actually apply to Sidoti himself because, as the responsible minister, he’s allowed onto the grounds any time he likes.
We can only hope our state’s political class can still find other ways to watch sport without paying.
But it isn’t just sports ministers who would distribute free tickets to friends and allies.
When Adam Marshall was tourism and major events minister, he was very generous with his ticket allocations. His freebies were often attached to corporate boxes — particularly if the event was sponsored by Destination NSW.
We're told these tickets even made it to some Labor MPs (often if they happened to sit on the Budget Estimates committee which was tasked with grilling the minister).
CBD has it on good authority that the SCG Trust was bemused by the request not to send tickets.
Presumably, Sidoti and his advisers thought it was too politically fraught to accept them with the Allianz Stadium redevelopment continuing to make headlines.
It was former Labor leader Michael Daley who so effectively parlayed the SCG Trust board into a political weapon, characterising them as top-end-of-town types too close to the Coalition.
Still, there are more than a few Liberal staffers unhappy about the change. And then there are those who simply shrug — they were never on the Friday afternoon mailing list to start with.
MAKING A SPLASH
Shooters, Fishers & Farmers MP Roy Butler was elected to Parliament just five months ago to represent one of the state's driest seats: Barwon.
Indeed, it was the lack of water in Menindee, near Broken Hill, that played a key part in the March state election, turned the tide against the Nationals candidate Andrew Schier.
Barwon changed from a safe Coalition electorate — held continuously since 1950, most recently by former water minister Kevin Humphries — into one of the Shooters' three lower house seats.
So it was with some interest that we noted the latest missive circulated by Butler.
It was an invitation to join the hitherto non-existent Macquarie Street group known as the Parliamentary Friends of Aquatic Recreation at its inaugural meeting next month.
It came complete with an edited stick-figure likeness of Butler edited into a photograph of the family "enjoying aquatic recreation".
"A thoughtful constituent helped me join them,” he quipped.
“It doesn’t have overseas trips, but it has jet skis. (No guarantee of access to jet skis through membership),” Butler wrote. “Who would not want to be a Parliamentary Friend of Aquatic Recreation? …… What don’t you like about water? We need a skipper (chair), and a Deputy.
"Pirate references or themed hats optional, but encouraged.”
EASY DOES IT
Here’s one “getting paid” strategy not in the Bar Association handbook: death threats.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that memo had made it to Windeyers Chambers barrister Geoffrey David McDonald by June 2014, only two decades after he had joined the Bar.
According to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal, it was at 7.11am on June 17 that McDonald, irritated that his client Saso Colevski had not coughed up for his services, decided to send him an email with the subject line: “See what happens if you don’t pay your bills.”
The email contained a link to a newspaper report about the murder of John Gasovski, an associate of Colevski’s who had been shot “execution-style” one month earlier. Classy stuff.
That earned McDonald a reprimand late last week.
McDonald is described on the Ninth Floor Windeyers website as a former insolvency partner and chairman “of a national accountancy firm”.
It turns out our man was the Hall Chadwick boss who was suspended from acting as a liquidator in 2009 for two years after an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
What a shame this rich history is absent from the official biography.
Samantha is the The Age's CBD columnist. She recently covered Victorian and NSW politics and business for News Corp, and previously worked for the Australian Financial Review.